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The Last Windrow: For the birds

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Well, as country singer Vern Gosdin sang, "That Just About Does It, Don't It"? I'm about to retire from the bird feeding period of my life.

About 1:30 a.m. on Friday of last week I heard a clattering of metal coming from the back deck of our house. I had a feeling of what it was. I was right.

When I turned the outdoor lights on and creaked open the screen door a black hulk jumped off the deck and headed for the deep woods. It was another visit from the bear. On the deck lay my favorite bird feeder. One that my wife and daughter had purchased for my birthday a year ago. The feeder lay disassembled and crunched. Sunflower seeds were strewn across the deck in the aftermath of this critter.

This was not the first visit from this bear we have affectionately named "Yogi". I remember the cartoon character as having a pleasant, comical demeanor. Our "Yogi" is only interested in emptying bird feeders of their cargo and punching holes into any hummingbird feeder it can reach. The nearby woods are scattered with the remains of untold feeders of every type. This bear loves anything that remotely smells of food.

We lost our beloved black Lab a few years ago and it was after Jada went to her reward that we began to be visited by creatures of the night. Those visits began with a group of raccoons that paid regular visits to our feeders. Coyotes began howling close to the house and once in awhile a lone timber wolf would let out a howl that sent every rabbit in the vicinity scurrying for cover. I know now why Jada started barking into the darkness about three in the morning. I miss that dog!

Gradually, more and more critters began to visit our home. Last year, early one morning a large bobcat trotted past our living room window. The only bobcat we've seen since the house was built in 1978. It seems that Mother Nature's creatures are about to reclaim the territory they roamed before we built our house. Sometimes I feel like I'm the intruder, which I probably am. But, I'm not moving.

We've been visited by other bears over the past few years. Two years ago we heard a similar noise. Again the lights came on to witness three yearling cubs standing on their back legs lapping seeds out of the feeder while their mother watched from a short distance away. It's common knowledge to know that one does not get between a cub and its mother. The cubs were comical looking standing there with their little pot bellies protruding as they enjoyed their repast. A yell from me sent two of them up the trail behind the house and the third cub shinnied up a nearby pine tree. A few grunts from mom got the little bear backing down the tree and darting off into the woods where its siblings disappeared. Good riddance.

There have been many bear reports around our area recently. Anyone feeding birds is a prime target for a visit from Mr. or Mrs. Bruin. It has become essential to bring the feeders in at night, which is a real pain, but at the cost of feeders this is the only way to avoid bird feeding bankruptcy.

So, "Yogi" is still roaming somewhere out in the bush. He will no doubt try to sneak back for another snack sometime in the near future. He will be disappointed to see that his dinner table is devoid of anything even slightly tasty.

If that doesn't work, I've used another method that simulates rapid fire. When used it sends whatever varmint that chooses to smash our feeders heading for the swamp, including Yogi. It's worked before. Sadly, this is what I've come to.

See you next time. Okay?